Cellular engineering Definition
Cellular engineering is a new emerging field in which living cells are used to make automated machines by using physical science, computer science and engineering tools.
In cellular engineering, cells are engineered in such a way to give many applications in field of medicine, science and technology and environmental sensing.
The ability to grow living cells in the artificial environment in the laboratory is called cell culture technology. Cellular engineering includes the role of engineering in cell biology and making of products by using living cells e.g. tissue engineering and bioprocess engineering. Cellular engineering focuses on cell level phenomenon while tissue engineering is used to generate new tissue for disease treatment.
These are the cells that are taken from the body of a donor of a same species.
Example: Tissue engineering of skin by using fibroblasts from human foreskin.
These are cells isolated from individuals of another species.
Example: Animal cells have been used for the formation of cardiovascular implants.
It is a field in which a combination of cells, engineering and suitable biochemical and physiochemical factors are used to improve or replace biological tissues. In tissue engineering, living cells are used in the replacement or repair mechanism. A tissue scaffold is used for the formation of a new viable tissue for a medical purpose. We can repair the damaged portion of a tissue or whole tissues like bone, blood vessels, bladder, skin, muscle etc.
Goals of tissue engineering:
• Save lives.
• Replace a damaged structure with complete live structure.
• Improve or replace the tissues such as tissue, skin, muscle, bone.
• Remove or replace organs like heart, kidney, liver.
Importance of tissue and cellular engineering:
Donor organs are not always available for the treatment. In these conditions, tissue engineering helps to form new organs. Surgical therapies such as surgical reconstruction, drug therapy etc. are not always successful while cellular engineering gives high rate of success. There will be no risk of rejection because we can made new organ from the person’s own tissue.
Steps involved in tissue engineering:
Donor cells from tissue are taken, harvest these cells in the culture. A scaffold is taken and culture the cells with scaffold in vitro. Tissue will be formed and implantation of it will be carried out.
Donor cells from tissue Harvest the cells
Culture the cells with scaffold
Cells need scaffold for regeneration of tissues. Scaffold gives structure on which the cells will grow. If scaffold is not present, the cells will remain floating and cannot connect with each other and tissue will not be formed. Scaffold provides structure that cells need to develop into a tissue. Various types of scaffolds are used according to the structural and biological factors of the tissues. Biodegradable scaffold provides a temporary environment where the cells will divide, differentiate and grow into specific type of tissue.
By using tissue engineering, artificial animal muscle is cultured in vitro to form in vitro meat.
Bioartificial liver devices:
A lot of research has been carried out to produce hepatic assist devices by using living hepatocytes.
Tissues are grown in lab and used to repair knee cartilage. Scaffold is generated without the use of exogenous scaffold material. All the material is cellular or the material is produced by cells themselves. Chondrocytes are used to repair cartilage.
It is constructed from human skin cells embedded in a hydro gel, such as in the case of burn repairs. Living fibroblasts are used for this purpose.
It is a field in which living cells are used to manufacture a biochemical product through the use of recombinant DNA technology.
Cellular engineers have manufactured different tools at molecular level and individual cells are combined to form multicellular units to solve the various problems.
The cells are designed to make them able to produce drugs.
Biosensor is a device which uses a living organism, tissue, enzyme or antibodies to detect the presence of chemicals. Cells are engineered to form biosensors that can monitor the environment and can give information about toxic conditions. A biosensor consists of following parts:
• Biological element
• Electronic signal processors.
The tissue will bind with analyte that is under study. The transducer is responsible for transformation of biological signal into electrical signal and will measure the interaction of analyte with biological element. Signal processors will display the results.
In short, cellular engineering is an emerging field which has many applications and a lot of research is still required to open the new avenues.